At present, digitisation and technological transformation are crucial for helping companies increase their efficiencies and develop competitive advantages. Our speaker, David Wray, Global Accounting and Reporting Officer for Huawei also identifies the ability to incorporate sustainability as an additional benefit from technological transformation. This article assesses how this pans out in practice and who finance leaders can turn to whilst they embark on this daunting task.
Approaching sustainability from a digital perspective
David cited a recent IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) study that identified over $780 billion are spent annually adhering to data compliance and regulation in the financial service industry alone. He followed by stating that if you multiply this out by all industries, “the number will be huge.” David emphasised that decreasing the costs of regulatory compliance could then create a financial gap that could be used for investment in “public good initiatives,” such as “social development” or “climate” projects in local communities.
This would enable companies to “have a meaningful impact” whilst “not spending any more money” than they already do. David went on to articulate that data automation and greater clarity over a whole company’s incomings and outgoings will in turn help them reduce overheads and increase efficiency. This surplus could then be invested in “strategic growth,” in employees or possibly to “pay the supply chain more.” Overall, this clarity will enable companies to “make better decisions when they have access to these technologies.”
Threading digitisation throughout an organisation
Here, David emphasised that the historical perspective of IT and legacy IT has been an anchor around many company’s necks for some time. He goes on to identify that we are transitioning to a more nimble and agile approach to technology, moving to public/private or hybrid clouds. He raised interest in the integration opportunities associated with new commercial products, contrasting ERP systems and approaches of the past. He went on to identify three considerations with digitisation:
- An evaluation of existing processes as opposed to automatically automating them.
- Looking at employee skills and whether upskilling is required to use and interpret new systems.
- A recognition that RPA-based technologies implementing in earlier digitisation efforts may also no longer be fit for purpose, and need refreshing or overhauling in a new strategy.
Who finance leaders should work with for these goals
Starting with external players, David identified that peers are paramount when it comes to implementing digitisation and transformation. Through engaging with your peers, you can understand and anticipate “when a company looks back and says ‘we should have done this differently.’” Through establishing a network across organisations, companies can develop best practise and drive “positive change,” David went on to say.
Shifting his attention to internally, he simply stated “you can work with everyone” when it comes to developing digitisation strategy. As the entire organisation will need to be involved in the implementation of technological transformation, it is “critically important” to “connect with all functions,” David stated. He concluded by identifying that “it takes a village to solve these kinds of issues”.
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